Saturday, January 24, 2009

Celebrating Grace

I made this floral iris for my Gran to celebrate her 85th birthday. The center medallion of the quilt is a colorwash Iris that is 30 by 40 -2 inch squares. I used a fusible backing as a design wall to arrange the iris on it. It was from a McCalls quilt magazine in the 90's. The border was taken from an Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine. The quilts name was "Gran's garden" to celebrate her love of flowers and especially Irises. My husband sees a teddybear playing the guitar in the colorwash so maybe it is a trick design :0.
My gran always wanted me to enter my quilts into local shows and such. The first quilt I ever entered into a show (for showing, not judging) was her quilt. My mother returned it to me after she passed away and I chose to show it to honor her memory. I still have not entered a quilt challenge or contest - I am not sure that I ever will..
Today I am remembering and celebrating the life of a woman who had a profound influence on my life. Her name was Grace and it was a most perfect name for her as she was a woman of Grace- both in personality and the way she carried herself. She was born in 1917 on the 22 of January. She was a hardworking farm woman who led a rich full life- not rich in the material sense but rich because she was well loved by all who knew her. When she left this world five and a half years ago, her funeral was attended by over 400 people. My gran,Grace would have been astonished by it- she was a very humble person. Grandma was a woman of faith and raised me with good old fashioned values- work hard, be kind, be respectful, thoughtful and loving. In some ways, my gran led the life of a traditional woman. In other ways,though she was a woman of independence. My grandfather would often go away to work off the farm in the winters so that they would have enough money- farming is not an easy way to make a living. Grace would stay on the farm with their four children and continue to milk cows, take care of the pigs, chickens and sheep and of course look after my mother and her siblings. In later years when my grandfather, Henry became ill, Gran became the primary driver at age 70(She had driven the tractor and truck around the fields and such but left the driving to grandpa. Grace continued to live on the same farm that she came to, when she married Henry in 1935. She loved my grandfather totally- he was her sun, moon and stars. They were married 52 years when he passed away. She would live independently on that farm for another 15 years, driving her car right until the end. The farm she lived on was adjacent to the original homestead and it was just a few years short of 100 years that my mother's family had owned property in that area when the farm was sold in 2004.
I spent many summers with my grandparents while I was growing up. When I look back at them, I realize how carefree that we really were: we played outdoors, picked berries, harvested vegetables, made meals to take out to my grandfather(he would be haying in the fields). We also invented our own gamesand made our own fun- my grandfather would take the Avon bottles and cans to the farm dump and we would go and hall it back to play store or house in the playhouse that my aunt and her cousins had build in the trees behind the house. I cut up the Sears and Eaton's catalogues to make doll houses and cut outs. We made up plays and sang to all the old musicals and country songs while we played and we worked.

Grace was a fabulous cook- she could make something out of the most basic of ingredients. Her fried chicken was the most flavorful I have ever had(nothing tastes quite the same as her chicken). She always had baking for anyone who came to the house and mid afternoon lunch was a full course meal. There are recipes that I attribute to only her- white cake with pink frosting and coconut, O' Henry square(another square that was a shortbread base with nuts and raisins and then iced) and a gelatinous pink square whose name I have forgotten- My mother has tried to make that pink square a number of times without success. Gran pickled and canned everything- she made use of what she had. We had berries and cream with most lunches and dinners as dessert. Have you ever had wild strawberries and cream ?- it makes my mouth water just thinking about them. Wild strawberries are hard to find now - trampled down by cattle and big machinery... On the prairies,we have a berry called Saskatoons - they are sort of like blueberries but bigger and have a slightly different flavor. I went picking berries with my gran a few times as an adult- she would still hold the barb wire fence up for me to climb through, as I have short legs, and then climb over them herself, as she was tall and long legged. As a child, sometimes the bakery truck would come to visit when I was there and my gran would buy fresh donuts or fig newton cookies for me. I still love Fig newton cookies and they always make me think of her.
What more can a child and later a woman wish for than to be loved unconditionally- When I think of my gran,that is what I miss the most- her quiet loving giving heart. I miss you, gran, and you are forever in my heart ..

The two quilts on the back of the loveseat are two other examples of early colorwash quilts- the heart was given to a friend as a wedding present and the other, a colorwash churndash that I gave to my husband. The churndash I did not make from a pattern - I just transferred the idea from a block pattern.
Colorwash is an interesting technique because you get to develop your understanding of value. When I made the first heart, I really struggled because I didn't get the importance of value versus color. Finally,the penny dropped but it took quite awhile. Like many other techniques, I came to enjoy playing with the little squares of fabric to make an overall picture.

Thank you for your recent comments and questions on my blog. Wanda asked me how many quilts I have made- I don't actually have a count though there are many quilts that I have not written about-(Are you thinking OMG is she going to write forever about old quilts :O)
I think there is over 50 bed sized quilts in total and many many baby wraps. I also have made panel vests and panel baby quilts when I was a beginning quilter. Almost all of my quilts have been bed sized quilts- I am a utilitarian quilter and hope the quilts will be used and enjoyed. Maybe some day I will explore the making of art quilts ...

I found it interesting to hear about the decisions one makes as a quilter- I wondered how others have developed their sense of color combinations? Have your color choices changed since you were a beginning quilter? I know mine have changed a lot- I am less afraid of using color and my newer pieces are much more colorful. It takes time and confidence to develop your comfort level to choose the fabrics for a new quilt. For me,gathering the fabrics and choosing the colors are one of the best parts- I go and play in my stash -its hard for me to find just one combination- That is why there is often more than one version of a pattern.

This week I was tagged for an award on Micki's blog. She is a lovely woman who lives in Ireland with Joe and enjoys creating interesting designs with her machines - both sewing and embroidery. You can check out her blog here: Thank you Micki, for the honor of your friendship- I, too, feel fortunate to have met so many other lovely quilters through the quilt blogs. There are so many quilters whose blogs I enjoy reading. I am awarding it to all of you who make this quilt world a little closer. I celebrate all your friendships. Micki also has a link to One heart, one world that you may find interesting..
Another blog you may want to check out is Jo Jo at She is having her 100 post giveaway. JoJo wants to know the three things that you couldn't live without in your sewing room. She is a lovely lady and I know you will enjoy visiting her blog. The three things I need in my sewing room are my machine, good mats, rulers and cutting tools and of course my stash of fabric.
The last blog I want to suggest you to is Mrs.Goodneedle has a lovely blog and has started to post a question on Tuesdays. Her question last Tuesday was " What made you start quilting and what things keeps you quilting". It is a great question to ponder..

My friend V. and I did some beading last night and today I hope that I might get another of the my quilts quilted..the pile is beginning to get smaller...January is a month of finishes so that February can be a month of new beginnings. I did get all of the pieces that I have been working on, trimmed so now I need to find the binding that I cut awhile ago so I can actually finish those pieces. That is my next adventure..

Happy quilting, or beading, or writing,or doing something that gives you pleasure and balance to your life. Remember to tell the people you care about most how much they are valued and loved- they are this life's gifts most treasured...



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